The historic Old San Juan cemetery is just before the San Juan Del Morro Castle. This is one of the oldest cemetery in Puerto Rico. It has this beautiful dome to the right side to the El Morro grounds.
First thing we did was to get some maps at the Department of Tourism. They have a free map and it is very detailed. Also, there is a bathroom there where the children can use.
This was also used as our meeting place because there are so many trees there that are shady and there are benches to sit down.
Puerto Rico gets to hot in the afternoon and to wait in the scorching sun is really bad. This worked out fine with us.
The Department of Tourism is a huge place and because the place is restricted for cars to park, it is easier for us to meet here after we toured San Jaun.
What is unique about San Juan, Puerto Rico? It's not the Hispanic culture. It's not the people...The doors of San Juan are obviously the talk of the tourists! Check out all the doors of the houses and apartments- these are exquisite and unique...Just a door but made so unique!
On the cliffs above the Caribbean Sea between El Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal the breezes off the sea rise over the large grassy area in front of the fortress making the perfect kite flying green. There were many family groups with kites on the green. Many of the kites were real works of art. Flying dragons, actual paper biplanes, birds, and a flying sailboat
The National Park Service hplds a kite flying festival here which includes a kite flying competition, educational exhibit, and a kite making class. All activities are free of charge.
This small square in the center of Old San Juan was originally called St. James Square but was renamed in 1893 to honor Christopher Columbus on the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico. The statue of Columbus stands atop a high pedestal with bronze placques in the base the pedestal to record important episodes in the explorer's life.
The Old San Juan trolly stops at the street intersection just below the square. Hop off, visit the square, shop in the many shops surounding the square, or just take a break and then hop back on the free trolly.
The main bus terminal in Old San Juan is at the bottom of the hill with the fortresses. You can catch the Old San Juantrolly bus at the bus station of at any of the numbered trolly stops around town. The trolly is free and stops at about 30 attractions in the Old town.
If you are planning to visit Puerto Rico, San Juan will almost certainly be your port of entry into the Island. San Juan's Old City, or Viejo San Juan is a must-see for all tourists and the top-priority stop for those ones, perhaps on a cruise, who plan spending in town only few hours.
Top sights of the Old City are (i) the colonial architecture and (ii) the Spanish forts El Morro and San Cristóbal, the best-preserved Spanish forts in the whole Latin America. The colonial town with its pastel-colored few-story houses and the cobble-stone streets is pleasant to walk around, the two Forts, with the dramatic views of the ocean and the coastline, are impressive. But Old San Juan is not only about history or "the past", it is also very much into the present with a very rich and lively dining and partying scene. In the last few years the area called "SOFO" in Calle Fortaleza along with Calle San Sebastián have developed as a major center of San Juan's nightlife with trendy restaurants, bars, lounges and dance clubs, and it is worth to give them a try.
Once in San Juan, I recommend getting an Hotel in the Old City and spending in the Old City at least two full days to have enough time to visit the sights and enjoy some of the nightlife life. If you are coming on a cruise with only few hours at disposal, plan to have a walk through the colonial streets and visit one of the two forts (in my view San Cristóbal is a more impressive construction while El Morro has a better panoramic view).
This is a wonderful place just to sit and watch the world walk or drive by. There are hundreds of retail shops and eateries, historic buidings, national historic sites, city squares and the perimeter widewalk. This area is packed with people buying, selling, playing, romancing, picnicing and living. There is a rich music nightlife also.
When we got there we were really excited about going to Old San Juan. The buildings were really old. It was like being in a time warp it was great. Lots of cool shops. Lots of great little alleyways to get lost in.
Old San Juan is a fun place to walk around, shop, eat and drink. I loved the fried green plantains. They are wonderful and served everyhwere.
Most of the worlds Rum is made in Puerto Rico. My favorite and the local favorite is Don Q. I like either the white or the Limon flavor...but I was told you must respect the Don Q as it is smooth and goes down easily. Ha
Old San Juan with its beautiful cobblestone streets and beautiful homes reminded me of Old Havana and Santiago de Cuba but much nicer and cleaner. I fell in love with El Viejo San Juan. This special place with its small and quiet streets is the perfect place to discover.
Viejo San Juan or Old San Juan is, in my opinion, probably one of the nicest and safest urban areas to visit in Puerto Rico. I could not get over how in the rest of the island the windows and doors of homes and businesses have bars (like prison) and along the tops of fenses there are spikes, razor wire, etc. I could not live in an environment like this. I was in Puerto Rico for business purposes and if I want to vacation in a tropical environment, I'll fly to Hawaii or the Pacific Islands first.
It's almost a shame that I'm going to say this, because it's the same in nearly every location in Puerto Rico, but the views from Old San Juan are simply amazing.
Standing on the coastline, in centuries old pillars of strength that fought off attacks from whichever Naval force that was insane enough to attack, it's easy to get preoccupied with the beauty. Make sure that you go on the trip, pay to minimal fee, and see the inside of the forts. The cannon views and cannonball piles make for perfect picture taking opportunities.
I can't think of anywhere else on earth that has a 360 degree view in which every single view is basically a postcard to send home.
Old San Juan is a beautiful city filled with multihued buildings, blue cobblestone streets, and lots of shops, resturants and museums. We spent our last day in Puert Rico strolling around and window shopping before heading out to Luquillo for the sunset. We visted the city walls, the original gate into the city, Plaza de Armas (the city's main square), The Capilla del Cristo, and more.
Weekends have the city are teeming with people. The cruise ships are in port, and the locals come into town for all the street fairs.
The distinctive blue cobblestones were made in Spain and brought over to pave the streets of San Juan.
more to come!
From our hotel, we rode the bus into the terminal in Old San Juan then walked around this historic area. Plan to spend an entire day here or 2 half days to even begin to see it all. We saw the Old Custom House, Princess Promenade, old city gate, El Morro fort, the old cemetary, Casa Blanca, San Jose Church, and the Governon's Palace. There are also a lot of great places to shop and eat here. All of it is within walking distance of the terminal. I wouldn't even think of trying to drive here much less park. You can get excellent guides to the area and maps from the tourist center or possibly from your hotel.